Explore this eclectic collection of records from the parish chests of Plymouth and West Devon. Discover if your ancestor stayed in the workhouse, received parish relief or appeared in the churchwardens’ account books. The parish was the local power for centuries, responsible for the local government and law, as well as the welfare of the poor.
The results will give you both a transcript and an image of the parish record. The transcripts include
Place and county
The image will reveal additional information about your ancestor. What is found in each image is dependent on the type of record you are viewing, but most will include the exact event date and a further description of the event.
The details found in the various event types include, but are not limited to
Pew Rentals – date of the rental and the location of the rented pew.
Examinations – will include further details about your ancestor’s life such as work history, when and to whom they were married and previous residences.
Jury Lists – the lists are of eligible jurors and will include the individual’s name, residence, occupation or calling, nature of qualification and amount contributed to the poor rate. Some individuals are classified as special jurors.
Settlements – the settlement papers usually included the name of the person’s previous parish, names of their family members and personal details such as age, birthplace and occupation. It was a legal certificate to state that you were a resident of the parish and, therefore, a responsibility of that parish.
Bastardy papers – the papers will register the name of the child, mother and the possible father, as well as the amount of money owed to the parish for the child.
Overseers and Churchwardens’ accounts – date and amount of parish relief paid to an individual or how much an individual has paid to the parish, as well as expenses paid by the parish and to whom.
Discover more about the records by using the arrows on either side of the image. By browsing through the parish documents, you will learn more about the context of the records and why your ancestor’s name has appeared in these records.
In the past, local parishes were responsible for far more than keeping the records of births, marriages and deaths. Collectively, the records kept by parishes of local and civic affairs are called the parish chest. The records include the levying of taxes, selection of juries and pew rentals within the church.
Each parish was responsible for supporting its poor and pauper families. Residents were required to pay poor rates, which went to support these individuals through poor relief or the workhouses. In the parish chest records, we also find bastardy bonds and papers. These were investigations into the paternal responsibility of children born to an unknown father. They also documented the father’s mandated payments.
The Plymouth & West Devon parish chest records consist of the following events.
Bastardy bonds and papers
Churchwardens' accounts and book of record
Examination, removal orders and other papers
Expenses of removals
List of paupers for relief
List of paupers relieved
Lists of subscribers for relief
Miscellaneous vouchers and poor rates
Note of paupers receiving relief
Notices of chargeability
Order of payment of relief
Overseers' account and rate books
Overseers' account for the poorhouse
Overseers' rates and disbursements
Parish jury lists
Parish returns and removals
Poor relief disbursements
Poor relief general ledger
Register of pew rents
Returns of men for jury service
Settlement and removal papers
Settlement certificates and removal orders
Settlement examinations and removal orders
Warrants for arrest
Workhouse admission and discharge books
Workhouse indoor relief lists